This month, I turn 30 years old. And I’m okay with it.
At least, I was until everyone starting telling me what a huge milestone it is and how it means you’re an adult now and you’re supposed to have things figured out. Meanwhile, I look at my life and I see a guy who’s not married, doesn’t own property, doesn’t have kids, is still in debt from school, and sometimes eats candy for breakfast. The conclusion is apparent: I am indeed an adult. Not because I have a mortgage or have taken on the responsibility of raising new humans but because I no longer feel the need to examine my standing as an adult.
In my early 20s I thought I had this whole adult thing figured out. I was on my own, in school, and figuring out who I was. Surely this intrepid adventure was what adulthood was all about — late nights, sexual experiences, and philosophical arguments with other 20-somethings made me feel alive and like I was headed towards something. Now that I’m turning 30, I realize just how naïve I was. The fact that I was preoccupied with thinking about how great it was to be an adult was evidence that I was actually far from one.
There are a few weird things about turning 30. One of the strangest is that I’m now at an age where I can clearly remember my parents being. When my dad was 30, I was eight. When my mum was 30, I was 10. Needless to say, my life at 30 is vastly different from what their lives were like at the same age. Growing up in a small town in northern British Columbia tends to limit your outlook on the possibilities in life. You can work at the mine or you can work at the mill. Or you go to university and become a teacher. This was my thought process when I graduated from high school. Thankfully places like Vancouver are a little more encouraging to young people.
What I could’ve predicted then if I wasn’t in deep, deep, surprisingly resilient and uncontrollably fierce denial about my sexual orientation is that I would one day have to break free of those preconceived notions of who I was and what I was supposed to do with my life. Being a gay kid in the north was tough, but at the same time it forced me to throw out the mould I had in my mind of how my future was preordained … eventually. Coming out was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done but one of the wonderful side effects of that painful experience was that it gave me a blank slate to rebuild my identity. Of course, I didn’t really change at all — but the perceptions of what I was obligated to do with my life did. At least to me.
I have to apologize to all the straight people out there. You don’t get the luxury of relieving yourself of the prejudiced ideas of who you’re supposed to grow up to be so easily. You have to take matters into your own hands. You must be brave and honest with yourself and let the true you through. You have to come out as yourself. The closet doesn’t just belong to the gays anymore. Weed your way through those corduroy pants and button-down Sears shirts your parents bought you when you were 17 and step into the daylight. You can wear those skinny jeans if you want to. You can’t pull them off, but who cares? If it makes you happy, then do it!
You see, here’s the thing about being a grown up: turning any milestone age isn’t so much about the possessions or responsibilities you may or may not have. It’s about how comfortable you are with yourself at that place and time. If you spend your days living up to anyone’s idea of who you should be then you’re screwed, turning 30 will suck, and you’ll have wasted a really good reason for a party.